Burlington, Ont.-based Hudson Restoration has partnered with Built Green Canada to provide sustainable certifications for homes damaged by natural or mechanical disasters. Hudson Restoration has become the first company in Canada to offer such a program for restorations.
Founded in 2003, Built Green is a non-profit that provides sustainability programs and third-party certification options. As of the end of 2022, it has certified 45,860 single family, multi-family and high density homes in Alberta, B.C., Ontario and Saskatchewan.
Hudson Restoration, founded in 2009, provides remediation, restoration and reconstruction to residential, heritage and commercial properties. It has offices in Toronto, Markham and the Muskoka region.
“The construction industry itself is obviously a very wasteful industry. But the restoration industry is kind of a niche market of the construction industry in a lot of senses, and it is even more wasteful,” Nick Hudson, director of operations at Hudson Restoration, said.
“I started really thinking about how can we offer a third-party certification to a homeowner who's suffered an extensive loss or extensive damage to their property (and) be able to give them a sustainable option? Or have the home built back sustainably?”
The Hudson and Built Green collaboration
Hudson Restoration first reached out to Built Green CEO Jenifer Christenson around eight months ago.
Built Green offers five tiers — bronze, silver, gold, platinum and net-zero energy+ — which are based on EnerGuide’s energy performance ratings and the qualifications for its other programs. These include materials and methods, indoor air quality, ventilation, waste management, water conservation, occupant wellness and business practices. Hudson Restoration would examine all of these aspects with Built Green.
Aside from restorations, EnerGuide ratings are a requirement for single-family homes, single family renovations and multi-unit residential buildings.
“We’re not the people on the ground,” Christenson said. “Whether it's a restoration company, whether it's a renovation company, whether it's a builder (or) whether it's developer, we need to work alongside them to ensure that the program is achievable.”
Typically, Hudson Restoration utilizes energy advisors as third-party consultants to undergo a blower door test — figuring out how much air is entering or escaping the home, which determines its energy efficiency.
“That's easy to do on a new build,” Hudson said. “It's difficult to do that when you have a hole in the roof as a result of a fire.”
Hudson Restoration worked with Built Green to redesign the latter’s approach to that element of certification. That meant referring to the historical data of the energy efficiency of homes to have a benchmark for its restoration and to “ultimately obtain the certification in the end the exact same way,” Hudson explained.
In an email follow-up, Christenson clarified some of the limitations that a restoration project faces regarding energy performance and determining a meaningful baseline. For example, in cases where blower door data could not be acquired, Built Green will accept Natural Resources Canada’s EnerGuide Technical Procedures, Appendix D.
Hudson Restoration has also heard positive feedback from insurance companies. Hudson explained the company is looking at incorporating an option into its policies where the insured are able to have a Built Green-certified rebuild or upgrade covered.
“Rebuilding sustainably has never been really a policy option. They're obliged to restore it to the state it came from, whatever that was. Sustainability would have fallen into that space as well," Margo Malowney, Hudson Restoration’s vice-president of business development and culture, said.
A lot of insurance companies . . . they're moving in this direction, they have their own net-zero or environmental goals, they're doing their metrics and they're working internally to try to better themselves in that space. They're also at the same time trying to work out how to build sustainability, durability (and) resilience into their policies, so they don't have to go back and fix the same house four or five, six times.”
Hudson said about half of the company’s team has undergone training for “one or two” levels of the Built Green training program, so they’re prepared when offering it to homeowners and insurers.
While Hudson Restoration is the first company of its kind with such a certification, that doesn’t exclude other companies from adopting Built Green’s programs and certification.
Its tiers are based on a checklist, which is updated annually based on industry input, changing building codes as well as Built Green’s technical standards committee and its board of directors. The checklist for a restoration would work the same way.
“Our programs are iterative and we work alongside industry, and they're the ones that are on the ground,” Christenson said. “As this progresses, we will be continuing to look for ways to adapt.”
The Insurance Bureau of Canada reported that insured damage for severe weather events reached $3.1 billion in 2022. This is the third-worst year on record, with weather-related disasters seen across the country. This is unlike in 2016, the worst year recorded, in which the Fort McMurray, Alta. wildfire accounted for 75 per cent of the losses.